As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 3


The Universal Concept of General Welfare

When actions of an individual adversely affect the society, Islam prohibits those individual actions by calling for restraint, patience and responsibility. Even though such actions may not have an immediate effect on the individual, however, if they harm the society, the individual will be affected eventually. Actions whose harm is hidden or not immediate may be difficult to realize and this is all the more reason to turn to our Rabb for guidance.

Giving precedence to the well-being of the society over an individual, also known as 'general welfare,' is an universal principle. Even those who turn towards their own selves instead of turning towards their Rabb for judgment, accept this principle and abide by it. Rather, this is their only justification towards curtailing an individual’s desire to do as he wants, for they cannot say as the believers would rightfully say, 'Do not do such and such for Allah - our Creator - has forbidden it.'

For the believers, it is part of one’s faith to take behavioral guidelines from the Shareeah. At times, we understand the wisdom behind individual rulings, at others, we may not. Regardless of that, we abide by the Sharee’ah ruling because we understand that the One, Who Created us, Knows best how we are to behave in the society.

Allah had forbidden extravagance because it causes harm to the individual and his dependants. The extravagant person could exhaust his resources leaving his family impoverished; or his life of extravagance sets an undesirable precedence for others, causing them to disregard the true goal of life and to forget that wealth is a bounty from Allah for which everyone is accountable for. The Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, 'On the Day of Resurrection, the feet of the son of Adam will not move until he is questioned about five matters; how he spent his life? How he spent his youth? How he earned his wealth and in what way he spent it (his wealth)? and what he did with the knowledge he had?' [At-Tirmidhee (5197)]

The reason why Allah has bestowed wealth has been explained by the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam), who said, 'Indeed Allah, the Most High, said, 'We have sent down the wealth for the prayer to be established and that Zakaat be given; and if the son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would love to have a second; if he had two valleys, he would love to have a third, and nothing will fill the belly of the son of Adam except dust…' [Musnad Ahmed and at-Tabaranee. Saheeh al-Jamee (no.1777)]

By wasting a blessing from Allah, the extravagant one is ungrateful towards his Lord and has been compared to the most ungrateful one. Allah says, 'But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen (devils), and the Shaytan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.' [Soorah al-Isra (17): 26-27] And the refuge of Allah is sought from this.

As for the believers, then amongst their qualities is to be moderate in their spending. Allah says, 'And the slaves of the Most Beneficent are those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes).' [Soorah al-Furqan (25): 67] Thus, as Imam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) writes in the Tafseer of the above verse, 'They (the believing slaves of Allah) are not extravagant, spending more than they need, nor are they miserly towards their families, not spending enough on their needs. But they follow the best and the fairest way. The best of the matters are those which are moderated, neither one extreme nor the other.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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